In Memory of Dr. Brian Bequette (1960-2014)

September 23, 2014

Brian Bequette, an Associate Professor in the Animal and Avian Sciences Department and well-regarded Gemstone team mentor, died Tuesday at Washington Adventist Hospital after he collapsed earlier in the day. He was 53.

Bequette was born in Red Bud, Illinois, on Dec. 16, 1960, and received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in 1983. Over the next seven years, he received his master’s degree from Southern Illinois University and his doctorate from the University of Missouri.

He began teaching as an assistant professor at this university in 2001 after spending 10 years at the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland, where he conducted “physiological and metabolic research in lactating and growing ruminants,“ according to a profile on the university’s site. 

His research at this university examined protein and amino acid nutrition and the use of dietary nutrients by ruminant and nonruminant farmed animals. Ruminant animals have four stomachs, while nonruminant animals have one. In 2003, Bequette received the Graduate Research Board Award from this university’s graduate school.

Over the course of his academic career, Bequette was published in 47 journal articles and received millions of dollars in research grants and gifts.

Bequette also mentored a group of 12 Gemstone students who are conducting a neuroscience research project that examines the relationship between insulin and Alzheimer’s disease. They call themselves “Team Brain Blast,” and although their project is outside the scope of Bequette’s field, he did everything he could to make sure the team was equipped to succeed, team members said.

“He was pretty critical every step of the way,” said junior finance and supply chain management major Vincent Bennett. “He was more than willing to take on our project and learn with us and put in all that extra work on top of all of the responsibilities of being a mentor, and that was something that I really appreciated and thought was really special about him.”

Through his expertise, passion and charisma, he inspired his mentees not only to be better students, but also better individuals, team members said.

“He tried to personally cultivate every individual. He tried to help us all, even in our [personal] lives,” junior community health major Unnati Mehta said. “He got me into the project. The amount of passion he had for it got me so interested in it.”

Bequette was assigned as the team’s mentor the summer after their freshman year. He fostered close relationships with each of his mentees that transcended the typical professor-student relationship.

“He was part father figure because he would be looking out for us,” said junior biology major Shannon Morken. “He was part colleague because he never treated us [as if], ‘You’re undergraduate students, you can’t do that.’”

His mother, LaVerne Hoffmann, step-father, Lyle Hoffmann, his sisters, Glenda Bequette and Lori Murphy, and his nephew, Benjamin Murphy, survive him.


Dr. Brian Bequette Student Research Fund

In honor of Dr. Bequette and his support of student research, the “Dr. Brian Bequette Student Research Fund” has been established to provide financial support for student research projects in the Department of Animal and Avian Sciences.   The priorities of this fund are as follows:
  • Firstly, the fund will be used to support the purchase of materials and supplies needed by a team of three or more undergraduate students proposing a mentored research project.
  • Secondly, the fund will be used to support the purchase of materials and supplies needed by an individual undergraduate or graduate student conducting a mentored research project.
  • Thirdly, the fund will be used to support the travel expenses of sending an undergraduate or graduate student to a national meeting for the purpose of presenting their research. 
If you wish to contribute to this fund, please write a check to UMCPF and include the name of this fund on the memo line of your check (Dr. Brian Bequette Student Research Fund). Checks should be mailed to:   Office of Gift Acceptance, UMCPF 4603 Calvert Road College Park, MD 20740
Gifts in support of the University of Maryland are accepted and managed by the University of Maryland College Park Foundation, Inc., an affiliated 501(c)(3) organization authorized by the Board of Regents. Contributions to the University of Maryland are tax deductible as allowed by law. Please see your tax adviser for details.